Financial Whack-A-Mole

Many of the nation’s banks are still in business today, thanks to the generosity of the American taxpayer. Now they’re about to give you a “thank you” gift, the Wall St. Journal reports. New fees and check charges.

In the financial version of Whack-A-Mole, the banks are jacking up charges to make up for the revenue lost with the government’s crackdown on certain business practices, the newspaper said.

The changes come against a backdrop of rising anger at the nation’s banks–having been largely supported by hundreds of billions of public bailout dollars in late 2008 and 2009. One recent survey by Chicago’s Bank Administration Institute found that 43% of retail-bank executives feel that consumer trust in banks has eroded in the past six months.

To make up for lost overdraft revenue, banks are promoting greater use of debit cards, which can be more profitable for banks than processing paper checks, and new types of checking accounts.

If you think you can avoid the fees by cutting up the card, some banks may start charging customers who don’t use active accounts.

Also expected to be a casualty of the revenue grab: Free checking. TCF Financial Corp., a bank that uses a “totally free checking” slogan, is re-thinking a plan to start charging a monthly fee on accounts that don’t meet minimum balances, the paper said.